Thomas and the Court

Article excerpt

AFTER a weekend of extraordinary public hearings that left the charges of sexual harassment against Judge Clarence Thomas thoroughly aired, if not resolved, the Senate has acted. Judge Thomas will sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Open-mindedness is a strength in a judge, a strength that Thomas claimed during his earlier confirmation process. Following the ordeal of the last few days, he ought to be immeasurably more open to such critical legal issues as the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, due process of law, equality of treatment under the law, the right to privacy, and, yes, sexual harassment.

The nominee's chief area of strength, before the weekend's hearings, was character. He seemed a man of firm principles. Those credentials of character were impugned, however, by the harassment allegations.

Surveys indicate that a majority of Americans are with the judge, having decided either that the charges were false, or that the judge has to be given the benefit of the doubt. Other millions of Americans are firmly convinced of the truth of the allegations against Thomas.

Clarence Thomas is not the first person to join the court under a cloud. Justice Hugo Black, for example, was known to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. …


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